Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Flash from the Present:"They required two years of of a foreign language. There was no way..."

"They required two years of a foreign language. There was no way in the world I could do that. In fact, I didn't really pass English. So I couldn't get a degree, I just wasn't capable of it."

He spent seven years at university, but never graduated. He was clearly bright, though, and after writing to "every museum in the English-speaking world", he was offered jobs at the LA County Museum, Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and Princeton. At Princeton, his talent was recognized quickly, and he was promoted to assistant curator. He had to get someone else to sign his grant proposals, but ultimately the NSF waived its rule that he had to have a PhD before getting money for postdoctoral research.

Who is this? This is Jack Horner, one of the world's most famous paleotologists, dyslexic, discoverer of the largest T Rex fossil (great exceeds 'Sue') and the parenting behavior of dinosaurs, winner of a MacArthur 'genius' grant, and model for Spielberg's Jurassic Park.

From Horner's Autobiography: "It's called dyslexia. It's a word that, ironically, most of us who have it can't spell or pronounce, but maybe that's the point. I wasn't diagnosed until well after I had reached adulthood, had struggled through school being considered lazy, dumb, and perhaps even retarded, and had flunked out of college seven times. Most people expected I'd wind up working at a service station, or if I was really lucky, I might get to drive a truck at my father's gravel plant. Nevertheless, I guess I've always found low expectations rather liberating. Disparaging assessments just fired my determination."

Horner: Dinosaur hunter
Jack Horner: Autobiography

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